Monday, April 30, 2012

Blast from the Past

I love old Bibles.  I especially adore very old bibles that have all the family information written in them, even if that information isn't about my family.  All the births, marriages, deaths, and other important events that took place so long ago; it's a rich history, and I am completely fascinated.  The more dog-eared, highlighted, and written in, the better!

I have a couple of very old Bibles that were given to me by people outside of my family.  There are one or two that I got at antique stores.  I have two that belonged to family members, and those I treasure most.  One was my dad's, and the other, my Grandma Rose's. 

My dad's Bible is one of the very few things of his that I wanted after he died.  I know my mom would have liked to have kept it, but she was gracious enough to let me have it.  Dad's Bible is literally worn out.  It is falling apart.  It's a real mess!  He kept it in a zippered cover, and that keeps it from getting lost in chunks.  I love that it's in such bad shape!  It was much used, written in, highlighted, and full of sticky notes that my dad would put in places where something struck him.  The front and back covers are full of sticky notes, too.  It is very comforting to go through my Dad's Bible, and read his notes.  I can hear his voice in them, and it's wonderful to hear his thoughts so clearly.  I use his Bible often, and it's special to read a passage, and there are a lot of them, that he'd highlighted.  It's like my dad is telling me, "I was here, and this was important to me".

My Grandma Rose's Bible was also obviously well-used.  It, too, is ragged and falling apart.  After her death, when her house was being cleaned out, this Bible was on a shelf with books and things that hadn't been picked up by other family members, and I was glad to have it.  Grandma had several Bibles, and she hadn't used this one in years, but at some point, probably when she was young, it was the Bible she'd read and wrote in.  It's wonderful seeing her handwriting and reading the notes that she wrote, and seeing what she'd underlined or marked.  I wonder what she was thinking at the moment a certain passage touched her enough for her to underline it.

I also have a very old hymnal.  Its copyright is 1887, it belonged to a school in 1890, and then was gifted to someone in 1907.  According to a note in the front cover, Dec 19, 1907, in Walla Walla, Washington, there was snow on the ground for the first time that winter.  I love it!  It is so much fun to go through it, and see hymns that we still sing today.  There are many hymns that I don't recognize, and it would be great fun to have someone play them.  This is one of the times that I so wish I could play piano!  Ah, maybe someday...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Living Water

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.  But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
                                                            -John 4:13-14   NLT

Friday, April 27, 2012

Oatmeal Cookies with Mixed Berries; Gluten Free & Regular

These are the BEST oatmeal cookies ever!  I have played with the recipe over the course of a couple of years, and they are always a huge hit with my family.  Made with dried mixed berries (cranberries, blueberries and cherries) instead of raisins, they are full of flavor.  This recipe is for the gluten free version, but it could easily be converted back to the regular version by using an equal amount of all-purpose flour instead of the Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix, and regular old fashioned oats instead of the certified gluten free.  Enjoy!

Oatmeal Cookies with Mixed Berries

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 1/2 cups certified gluten free old fashioned oats (I like Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix (this is gluten free)
1 5 oz package of dried mixed berries, equals about 1 cup (I like Walmart's Great Value brand)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix well, all ingredients except oats, Baking Mix, and dried berries.  Stir in oats, Baking Mix, and dried berries.  Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto lightly greased cookie sheet (I used non-stick spray).  Bake until light brown, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then remove from cookie sheet.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Art Symposium

My daughter, Megan, has a piece of art on display at the Wyoming High School Art Symposium, in Casper.  She's a 9th grader, so this is the first time she's had something submitted.  The students from her school with art displayed got to travel there today to see everthing.  How fun!  It's kind of exciting for her work to be there, mingling with over 4,000 other pieces of art!  Her teacher chose and submitted her work, and Megan is a little embarrassed by it, but, too's there, and I'm proud of her.  It's kind of a funny self-portrait.  The teacher had them look into a reflective sphere, and draw what they saw, so things are a bit distorted.  Given the title, I take it she was going for kind of a grumpy look.  Since the piece is also a sphere, I think it's very interesting, and is nothing she should be embarrassed by.  I could tell right away, without being told, that she was her own subject, and it certainly is better than I could ever do. 

Congratulations to Megan, and all of the other student artists showing off their talents!
"Whimsical Anger" by Megan

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Experiences

Yesterday, I left home at 6:30 a.m. to travel with a friend to Sheridan, Wyoming, because she was having some work done on her new truck there (we don't have this particular dealership in our town).  Sheridan is about 100 miles away, so it takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to get there.  It was a gorgeous day, and the drive was nice.  That early in the morning, we got to see quite a few animals that hadn't yet bedded down for the day.

Once we got there and dropped the vehicle off, the dealership was kind enough to loan us a car for the day while they worked on hers.  So, we headed out for some breakfast and to take care of some errands.  There are a few stores in Sheridan where we can get things we don't have at home, so we took our lists, and got everything we needed.  By the time we finished with our shopping, it was time for lunch, so we got that taken care of.

Whenever my friend has had a vehicle serviced at this particular place, they've been pretty quick, and are usually finished by the time we're done with lunch.  Though they thought it would be about the same this time, it wasn't.  They ran into some things that took longer than originally thought, so we found out that they wouldn't be finished with her truck until around 5 p.m.  So we headed out to find some things to keep us occupied.  The weather really was perfect yesterday, sunny and warm, so we weren't too upset about spending a little more time in Sheridan.
We decided to explore the Trail End State Historic Site.  It is a mansion, carriage house, and beautiful grounds that were built by the John B. Kendrick family.  Mr. Kendrick is a former Wyoming Governor and U.S. Senator.  The house was completed in 1913, and the Kendrick family lived there until 1961.  The house consists of the basement, main level, second floor family and guest bedrooms, third floor female staff quarters (male staff was housed in the basement), and the entire top floor is a ballroom with musicians' loft.  The house is filled with a lot of the original furnishings, rugs, and decorations.  It is fascinating to see many modern conveniences in this house, that I had no idea even existed in 1913, such as a central vacuum system that was accessible in each room!  On display in the cabinet where they were kept, are several of the original hoses and pieces of equipment that the maids would carry from room to room as they did the vacuuming.  There was also an intercom system and an elevator installed when the house was built.  I was amazed!  Throughout the entire house is very ornate woodwork, mostly in teak or oak.  Many of the curtains and rugs in the rooms are the originals, and while somewhat worn, they are still beautiful.  There are several marble fireplaces and mantles in the house, and ornately carved marble window frames and sills in the bathrooms.  Speaking of bathrooms, there are twelve in that house, including guest bedrooms each having their own private baths. 

I wish I had been able to get more or better pictures.  Flash photography is not allowed, as it can do damage to very old things, and the house is not lit well enough for much photography without the flash.  I did snap a few photos, but they are dim and a bit blurry from the shutter staying open a bit longer due to the lack of light.  But, they will give you an idea of what we saw.
Front entrance of the Kendrick residence.

South side of the home.

The master bedroom, with two double beds, and large bath.

Part of the ballroom.
We also took a walk around the grounds and gardens of the property.  It is all very beautiful and peaceful.  For the children and grandchildren growing up there, it would have been a wonderful place to play and experience the outdoors.
Yard and driveway at the front entrance of the home.

After we left Trail End, we found a park along the river, and just enjoyed the day.  Later, we got some ice cream, then took a drive on some random road in the country.  I don't have any idea where we were, but it was beautiful.

Finally, at about 5:30 p.m., the work was done on my friend's truck, so we headed for home.  It was a very nice day, spent with a great friend, and so much fun doing some new things.

How was your Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Morning's Dew

I looked out the window this morning, and saw the entire yard covered with droplets of dew.  A beautiful, sparkling sight, it reminded me of this verse from Deuteronomy:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Trip Through Time

One of my favorite things to do is walk in our town's cemetery.  My mom and I walk there frequently in the summer.  It's peaceful, and usually we have the place nearly to ourselves.  Occasionally there may be another person or two there, or the lawn crew may be working.  But, for the most part, the cemetery is an undiscovered gem.  While parks and paths are crowded with people, the cemetery is quietly empty.

Yesterday, my husband, our daughter, and I, went for a walk in the cemetery.  All of the various flowering trees are in bloom, and the entire place was filled with their sweet scents.  Add to that the clean smell of freshly cut grass, and each breath was like inhaling a bit of Heaven.  The cool of the evening settled around us and made our walk the perfect evening activity.  

This is a common area in the center of the cemetery.  There is a bench, not shown in the picture, that is a perfect place to sit and enjoy the beauty of the place.

I know some people find it creepy and are uncomfortable being in a cemetery.  The thought of being among the dead is unsettling to them.  For me, it is a place of remembering.  I don't believe cemeteries are haunted by the dead.  There is actually a lot of love in a cemetery.  The monuments for each person there a tribute, some of them very carefully chosen and thought out, so they're just right for the person they are commemorating.  While some graves only have the small metal marker provided by the cemetery, the vast majority have something more personal. Along with the usual name, date of birth and date of death, poems, sayings, favorite verses from the Bible, and even photos appear on some headstones, all put there to say, "This person lived and was loved".

I find it so interesting to look at all of the different monuments in the cemetery.  Some of the very old stones are showing their age and need repaired or replaced.  There are homemade grave markers that are so different and unique, that I wonder about the person they were made for.  We often look for the oldest grave, so far a date of death in the late 1800's is the oldest we've found.  Since our town doesn't go back much beyond that, it probably is the oldest grave there.  I can't remember where it is exactly, but I will find it again this summer, and this time I will take a picture so I will remember it more clearly.

These are some of the homemade markers:

The cemetery is full of history, and is a little like taking a trip through the past.  For me, it is not creepy or scary, but a soothing and even uplifting place.  While I recognize some of the names outside of my own family buried there, most of them are people I never saw, or knew, while they were living.  That's ok.  Their stones quietly tell me they were here.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Equipped for the Future

My husband recently bought an older Buick, with a lot of miles on it.  He wanted something cheap to drive to and from work, that would get much better gas mileage than his pickup.  It's a 2003 Century with well over 100K miles.  But, it is quite a bit newer than his pickup; it's a 1997 GMC with nearly 200K miles on it.

The "new" Buick is in good shape for it's age, but it needed a tune-up.  It's lived a lot of its life on a ranch, so has spent quite a bit of time on dirt roads.  This means there is dirt packed pretty much into every nook and cranny possible, and some that you would think impossible!  My husband does a lot of his own mechanic work, which comes in very handy, and over the years, he's had our daughter helping him work on various things.  So, yesterday, he rounded her up, and they got to work.

They pulled the wheels off and cleaned out a huge amount of packed in mud and rocks.  They cleaned and painted some areas inside the wheel wells that were scraped up and beginning to rust.  They checked the brakes to see if they needed replaced, but they are fine.  The spark plugs were changed, which was a very good thing, because several of them were worn almost down to nothing.  There were other things they did as well, but these are the things I know of for sure.  My daughter did a lot of the work with her dad watching and giving instruction.  My dad had me help him do things like this with our cars when I was a kid, and the memories of what I learned, and the time spent with him, are some of my fondest.

Pulling spark plugs

My little grease monkey

I think it's great that our daughter is getting some valuable training for when she has a car of her own. It is comforting to know she'll be able to do things like take care of a flat tire, do a tune-up, or change the oil if she wants to.  She's becoming better equipped for her future.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Survival of the Fittest

If I were a believer in evolution, I would say that everything we've gained over the eons, all of our human advancements, were all to prepare us for something many people face on a regular basis in these modern times:  Walmart!

This is the warning all Walmart stores should have!
Ok, so maybe evolution hasn't prepared us all that well for the age of Walmart.  I think if it had, I wouldn't feel like I'd been beaten to within an inch of my life every time I go there.  The town we live in doesn't have great choices when it comes to shopping.  We have Albertson's, Smith's, and a very small mom-n-pop grocery store.  For everything else, we have Walmart or Kmart.  Since Walmart has the best selection and prices, I always end up shopping there, even though I detest it.  My husband refers to Walmart as "Satan's Store".  Hmmmm, he may be on to something there... 

Beware! The Walmart Smiley is a trick!
It would be nice if this is how it felt
to shop at Walmart...

         Yep! This is exactly how I
         feel after a trip to Walmart!
Unfortunately, everyone else in town is in the same "meager shopping choices" boat, so everyone else in town also shops at Walmart.  Funny, they're always there at the same time I am!  Everyone I ever knew, I run into at Walmart!  I try not to block the aisles while I visit with someone I only get to see while on a Walmart shopping trip, but it doesn't really matter, because everyone else in the store is already standing around and visiting with their long-lost friends.  If I'd wanted to block an aisle, I couldn't anyway...they're already taken. 

There are never enough items in stock; I often don't get to completely fill my list, and usually, it's something that the other stores in town don't carry.  When you do finish the run-n-grab it race, there are never enough registers open, so the wait in line usually takes longer than the shopping did.  To borrow a line from the folks at Raid that make the Roach Motels, "Walmart; you can check in, but you can't check out"! 

More and more, if it's an item that I use on a regular basis, I will order it from Amazon, and sometimes it even costs less.  I love that I can shop from my home and have it at my door within a couple of days.  I wish I could shop online for everything, and never have to step foot in another grocery store.  But until we "evolve" a little more and have that capability, I will fight my way through the dread Walmart, and be glad that, even though I come out with some bumps and bruises, I have managed to survive! 

Hear, Hear, for the survival of the fittest!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Indoor Flower Garden

Spring really has sprung!  We had a very mild winter, and a lot of early warmth during March especially.  The trees are leafed out, and my perennial flowers are going great guns.  Everything is about a month ahead of schedule, and I keep worrying that we'll get a huge snowstorm that will do a lot of damage to the tender baby leaves and the plants doing so well in my flower gardens.  It is not odd for us to have very large blizzards right up until June.  So I am keeping my fingers crossed that our early spring will not turn back into winter.

Having it so mild outdoors really has made my green thumb start singing.  I've been ignoring it for at least a month now, and it's gone from singing to shouting and demanding attention!  But as I said, we are not out of danger yet, and we are still having many nights at or near freezing, with frost many mornings.  Too many times in past years I've caved in to the green thumb, and have planted my annuals, only to have them destroyed by one returning winter storm, or even a heavy frost or two.  It's heartbreaking when it happens, and it means starting over again when it really is an appropriate time to plant.  So, for now, I'm ignoring the demands of my green thumb.

I do have something that helps the waiting a little bit.  I have an indoor flower garden!  Fortunately, I have two bay windows that I can fill up with plants; a couple of pots of gerbera daisies (commonly known as gerber daisies), a geranium, and a chrysanthemum.  My regular house plants are feeling a little crowded, but they'll just have to put up with it for a bit longer.  Anyway, my indoor garden is blooming!

This is the first gerber daisy to bloom.  I have at least three other colors just about to bloom!

This is Chad's geranium. He chose it one summer, and it really does have beautiful velvety blooms.

I have had this chrysanthemum for many years. I had to buy it when I saw the name of its variety; Yoko Ono! That just cracked me up! I didn't think Yoko Ono was particularly yellow or fluffy, but who am I to argue with a flower having such a name?

And finally, this is the little volunteer viola I rescued out of my garden last month.  If you want to see the original post to check out how much it has grown, click here.  This little champ is really going to town!  In fact, it's needing a larger pot, so I hope to be able to plant it outdoors soon.

Do you have flowers that you bring inside for the winter?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An Early Morning

Don't you hate it when something out of the ordinary is happening, and you can't sleep?  My daughter is taking a trip for band today.  They're headed out of town for Festival, where they'll be judged, along with the bands from several different schools, on how well they play. Their bus is leaving at 6 a.m., so the kids need to be there by 5:30 so they can load up.  Just knowing she'd have to be up by 4:30 or so had me awake before 4 a.m.  I wanted to make sure she didn't sleep through her alarm, and even though my alarm was set, my internal alarm went off first!  This after a restless night of looking at the clock every hour or two.  I know I am going to have a day where I will need an afternoon nap.  Most likely, I will not get that nap.  Hopefully I will be able to sleep better tonight.

Monday night, they had a concert so families could hear what they were going to play for the judges.  They performed three pieces of music, and they sounded beautiful.  Good luck to my daughter, and the rest of the high school band!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bit of a Reprieve

Yesterday afternoon, we started to get some peeks of sunshine. I was so excited, after seeing nothing but dreary gray for nearly a week! The sun was playing a game of hide and seek with the clouds, but was out enough that my tulips finally got to open up.  I was so excited, I grabbed my camera and ran outside to get a picture.  But...yep, you guessed it.  In the very short amount of time it took me to get out to the yard, the sun was behind a cloud. Doggone it, anyway!  So I roamed around the yard, looked over all of my flower beds and checked on how our little lilac bush is coming along, and tried to be patient.  Finally, the sun peeked out again, and while it only stayed briefly, I was able to snap a couple of pictures.

I'm not sure what variety of tulip these are. They came in a variety pack, and I wish there had been more of them. They are my very favorites!

Sunny daffodils

Just after the I got the photo of the daffodils, the sun hid behind the clouds again.  The next picture on the camera shows the dim, overcast light.  I was happy to get the pictures that I did!

By early evening, the sky had cleared and the sun was out for the rest of the day.  After nightfall, the stars were out and shining brightly, and it was so nice to see them, too! 

This morning, we are having peeks of sun here and there, but it is supposed to get cloudy and rainy again for the next few days.  Since we need the moisture, I will try not to grumble, and am thankful for the bit of reprieve in the meantime.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dead Batteries

My batteries are nearly dead; I'm desperately in need of a recharge.  Problem is, I seem to be solar powered, and the sun is not out.  We haven't really seen the sun since early last week, and it's getting depressing.  I feel tired and sluggish, I don't want to do anything but crawl under a blanket and read a book.  Exercise?  Ugh, it's hard to drag myself downstairs to work out.  Salad?  No way.  I only want to eat comfort foods, then go back to reading my book.  Blah.

This is what we've had for nearly a week.

This arid part of the country I live in needs some serious moisture, or we will dry up and blow away before June. Fortunately, all of these gray, cloudy days have brought over an inch of rain (and some snow) so far.  For that, I am extremely thankful!  Everything is becoming lush and green, but it's time for the sun to come back out so we can fully enjoy the emerald beauty.  I'm not the only one missing the sun, either.  With all of the dark and overcast days, my tulips are staying closed.  The birds are not singing, and are trying to find places to stay dry.  They're all fluffed up in order to keep warm.  Please Mr. Sunshine, come back to us!  Shine down and warm us up, let the birds sing again, and let the pretty flowers open up and bask in your bright light!

This is more like what I wish we had!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Vegetarian Chili

I am not really a vegetarian, I'm more of a part-time vegetarian.  I feel better when I eat very little to no meat.  I have celiac disease and am lactose intolerant, so I am used to cutting things out of my diet already. How hard could it be to cut out meat also?  Usually it's not a problem, but sometimes I do want a steak. For the most part, I have found myself experimenting with recipes that would normally include meat, to see if I can make a meatless version that is just as satisfying for my family.  It would be easy if I was just cooking for me, but my husband and daughter are carnivores, and really don't care to eat vegetarian meals often, unless I can find a way for them to not miss the meat.  But I found out right away that tofu was not going to be an acceptable alternative for them.  The time or two that I tried tofu in recipes, well, let's just say I had a revolt on my hands!

This chili recipe is one that hits the spot for all of us.  It's thick, flavorful and goes well with crackers or cornbread.  I hope you'll enjoy it as much as we do!


2 cans Bush's Chili Beans (I use this brand because it's gluten free)
2 cans kidney beans, drained
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, juice and all
1 bell pepper, chopped (I like red best)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup brown minute rice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
dash cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix everything together in a large sauce pan, bring to a boil, then turn down heat, cover and simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

An Elbow Adventure

I have been fighting a severe tendinitis in my elbow for the last eight weeks.  Lateral epicondylitis is the official diagnosis, which is really just a couple of big words that mean I have tennis elbow.  No fair, since I don't play tennis!  My cousin, Sue, had a case of tennis elbow from crocheting too much.  Alas, mine was not caused by anything so glamorous; I have been lifting a lot of heavy stuff, and strained it.  Since it's my right elbow, and I'm right handed, it has been rather inconvenient!

I have been trying to take it easy on my right arm, and have been doing the usual treatments for tennis elbow, which consist of resting it, taking ibuprofen, and keeping it wrapped or wearing a brace.  But in the weeks since the original injury, it has only gotten worse, and much more painful.  The throbbing ache has radiated from my elbow up into my bicep, all the way down to my wrist, and has been keeping me awake at night.  So this afternoon, off to the orthopedic surgeon I went.  X-rays were taken, which showed no breaks or arthritis.  Then the doctor got a hold of my arm, found all the sore spots, pressed on the most painful area, and suggested a steroid shot.  Since I had already done the basic care, and it hadn't worked, the shot was the next thing to try.  I have had a steroid shot in my heel before, and let me assure you, they are quite painful.  I think giving birth hurt less!  But, I also know that after the first couple of days when the pain can actually get a bit worse, it will usually get better rapidly. So I went for the shot.

From Google Images

First, the doctor pressed on my elbow again to find the most painful spot, right about where the needle is in the above picture.  He marked the spot with his pen, then cleaned the area, and injected away!  The needle goes right down to the bone, and he repositioned it twice to make sure the whole area got a good dose of steroid.  It was very painful, but thankfully, there is some numbing medicine mixed in, so it does go numb by the time the injection is finished.  The doctor made sure I was doing ok after that painful shot, and asked if I was breathing.  I know I was gritting my teeth, but I must have been holding my breath, too.

I'm hoping I will be feeling better in a couple of days.  I have to take it easy on my arm so it can heal, but I could be doing much better within a couple of weeks.  I'm looking forward to that!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


(I climb up on my soapbox, step up to the podium, and tap the mic to make sure it's on)

Ever run across a news item that just makes you shudder?  With wars going on, natural disasters happening all over the world, and the US economy, there's plenty of bad news.  I don't mean to make light of these very serious situations, but today, something I read on the Fox News website definitely created a strong reaction in me.  It's called the "gag reflex", and this is what caused it:

Pizza Hut ad via Fox News

Yes, this is for real, and is being rolled out in the U.K. Right now, I can't think of anything nastier than this combination of pizza and hot dog.  And drizzled with mustard?  Yuck!  At least the mustard drizzle is free. Maybe that makes it all better.  Nope!  Can't you feel your arteries crying out for mercy, just by looking at this ad?  If you're somebody that would enjoy this food, my apologies, and I hope you're not offended by our difference of opinion. (Teenage boys everywhere are shouting insults, and start throwing things at me)  Kids, stay in school, and just say no to drugs and hot dog stuffed crust pizza!

I think I'll go eat my fat-free vegan salad now, and listen to my arteries give a huge sigh of relief.

(Stepping down from my soapbox, I duck behind the podium as one last shoe comes my way)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Willow is my daughter, Megan's, cat.  He is a boy, despite his sort of girly name.  People have teased Megan about it, but she named him as soon as she got him, and she said, "He is definitely a Willow".  Period.  At first it did seem a little odd, but we're all used to it now, so we don't think anything of it.  My husband calls him psycho, and sometimes I do think that's a more fitting name!  It bugs Megan when we take Willow to the vet, and they refer to him as "her".   Do you remember the 80's movie Willow?  That Willow was a boy, too, so our Willow is not alone!

Almost two years ago, we walked into the pet supply store to get food or treats.  I don't remember exactly what we were after.  This place not only sells supplies, they do have a few animals from time to time.  This time, they had one tiny kitten left from a litter.  They'd sold the rest, and the runt was all that was left.  Of course Megan fell in love instantly, and asked to hold the kitten.  They said the kitten was female, and 8 weeks old.  I've been around cats and kittens all my life, so checked it out for myself, and this kitten was most definitely NOT a female.   They didn't care though, they just wanted to sell this last kitten.  They had sold all the rest for $50 each, but since he was the last, and such a tiny runt, they'd let us have him for $25.  Since we already had a cat and four dogs, I said, regretfully, thank you, he's cute, but no.  Megan instantly went into begging mode! "I'll pay for him myself! P L E A S E, mom!! We can't leave him here!"  I knew her father wouldn't be pleased about a surprise kitten.  Megan is a cat addict, he is a dog addict.  But this kitty was pulling at my heartstrings, so I let her call him.  No surprise when he said, "NO WAY! Do NOT bring another cat home!"  But Megan persisted and wore her daddy down.  He finally said it was up to me, probably hoping I'd be willing to make the "NO" stick.  I wasn't.  This kitten was so cute, and so way was I going to leave him there with an opening like "It's up to you!"  Usually we prefer to get our pets from the shelter, but how do you walk away from such a sweet little ball of fur?  My heart is waaaaay too soft for that!

So Megan used her own money and bought the kitten.  I bought the kitten food, and whatever else we were originally there for.  And with that, Willow became part of the family.  He is quite the character, and always entertaining.  We were lucky, he wasn't really interested in shredding everything in sight.  He has always been very mellow, which is rare in young kittens, but he still has some wild adventures.  He's just quiet about them.  Very stealth.  Watch your toes if he's hiding under the bed and you walk by!  Fully grown now, he is still a very small cat.  Buddy, our other cat, is of average size, but dwarfs Willow.  Seems appropriate, since the Willow in the movie is also a dwarf.  Megan has commented several times over the last couple of years that Willow is the best $25 she ever spent, and I agree.

Willow, 10 weeks old, in Megan's hat.

Willow, in his favorite napping spot.

Willow, last week, "Turn on the TV, I'm missing my show!" Actually, he loves this spot because he can see out two windows at the same time. Gotta keep track of the neighborhood, you know.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Anniversary

From Google Images
Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our savior.  Thank you, Lord, for coming to live as a man, you took on all of our sins and allowed yourself to be sacrificed on the cross, then defeated death and rose again on the third day.  What an awesome gift of love!

Easter has always been special for our family.  Growing up, we dyed eggs and had baskets of treats, but we knew the Easter Bunny was imaginary and just for fun.  My parents taught us the true reason for Easter, and where our focus really needed to be.  Since the resurrection of Jesus was something to celebrate and be thankful for, it was easy to tie the fun parts of Easter in with that celebration.  My husband and I have tried to do that for our daughter as well; have fun with the imaginary Easter Bunny, but keep the real reason we have Easter in the forefront.

From Google Images
Today is special for another reason; it's our 23rd wedding anniversary!  When I looked at the calendar a couple of months ago to see when Easter was this year, it hit me kind of funny that it was on our anniversary date.  It's like we're on celebration overload today!  I've been feeling like we need to keep Jesus' resurrection first, anniversary second, and Easter Bunny in a distant third.  At fourteen, my daughter is growing up, and for the first time in her life, wasn't interested in dying eggs, and hasn't mentioned wanting an egg hunt. I did get her a little something to find this morning, but I think maybe I did it more for me, because it makes me a little sad that she's outgrowing some fun childhood traditions.

Since it has been feeling a little odd celebrating two such very important things on the same day, I felt sure this was the first time our anniversary and Easter fell on the same date.  Since I've been kind of torn on exactly how to feel about all of it, I'd surely remember if it had happened before, right?  Wrong!  Just to be sure, I checked out past dates of Easter, and it fell on April 8, 2007.  That was only five years ago!  How could I forget that?  Sharing the date obviously didn't make as big an impression on me as it has this year.

So, on this jam-packed Sunday, Happy Resurrection Day to you all, Happy Anniversary to my dear husband and me,  and Happy Growing Up to our beautiful daughter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bowl of Confetti

This is one of my favorite meals.  I call it Bowl of Confetti because of all the colors from the veggies.  It's a pretty loose recipe, I just toss stuff in, and the amount of veggies I chop depends on how many people are going to eat it.  My family really enjoys this, it's super easy, and very versatile.  The flavor you end up with depends on what you like.  I usually just go with what is tickling my fancy at the moment.  So start with the basic ingredients, which I will list below. Then, you decide which flavor you're going with.

If you'd like an Asian flavor, mix in a little Chinese 5 spice, a splash of tamari (a gluten free, low sodium soy sauce), and top with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

For southwest, mix a dash of cumin powder, some chopped fresh cilantro, and some salsa. I also like to add some chopped fresh jalapeno.

Sometimes I like to just mix in a little bit of Dijon mustard.  It gives the veggies just the right amount of kick.

There are times, like today, when all I want is a dash of salt and a little freshly ground pepper.

Here are the basic ingredients. These I always use, but I will add whatever else I feel like at the moment, or what I have around, like frozen peas, water chestnuts, fresh sugar peas, grape tomatoes, cucumber, carrot, yellow squash, zucchini, sweet red onion, garlic, etc.

-Beans, whatever variety you wish. I've used kidney, red, garbanzo, black, etc. If you're using canned beans, drain and rinse them.
-Cooked brown rice (without any butter or oil if you want to keep this fat free), enough for each serving to have 1/2 cup.
-Bell pepper, chopped. I like red best.
-Frozen corn, thawed under hot water

Mix it all together, and enjoy! Very healthful, and so yummy!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Good Friday

Today, Good Friday, has been a very busy, but good Friday.  We got up at 5 a.m. because we needed to be on the road by shortly after 6 a.m.  We traveled to Sheridan, Wyoming with a friend.  She was having some work done on her vehicle there.  This worked out very well, because along with being Good Friday, today is also my mother-in-law's birthday.  She and my father-in-law were going to be in Sheridan also, to babysit my little nephews.  During the morning, we ran errands and did some fun shopping.  At lunchtime, we all met up to celebrate the birthday, and have a good visit.  My nephews are 1 1/2 years, and 6 months old.  We hadn't seen them since Christmas, and both of them have grown A LOT! Chad's sister has her hands full with these two little ones, but they are sooooo cute!  After saying our goodbyes, we headed back home.  It was a quick trip, but we got a lot accomplished, and the visit with family was fun.

It felt a little strange thinking about Good Friday, and what a somber occasion it commemorates, while celebrating a birthday.  After contemplating it, I think Jesus is happy to have us celebrating today, and not just being sad with remembering his personal sacrifice and death.  He saved us because of his great love for us, and in loving us, wants us to have joy.  It was different than I thought it would be, but I was able to celebrate my mother-in-law, keep Jesus in mind, and be thankful for his death, so he could rise again, and save me from my sins. Thank you for your perfect love, Jesus!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Space...The Final Frontier

Cone Nebula

I am enchanted by outer space.  Are you?  The universe is such a big place, and it's full of bizarre and beautiful things that are so unlike anything we have on Earth.  Planets, moons, stars, asteroids, comets, black holes, nebulas, galaxies, and so much more out there that we just don't really understand.  I'd love to know what God was thinking as he created it all, and since the universe is always changing, does he watch with fascination, like we do?

The pictures from unmanned spacecraft sent into deep space, and space telescopes orbiting  our own planet, are breathtaking.  I saw in the news yesterday that the one-millionth photo had been taken from the International Space Station.  I would love to be able to travel there and take pictures of the things in space!  Imagine getting to travel to other planets like taking a car trip to Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon. That would be so cool!  It really isn't fair that space is so inhospitable and deadly for us.


The size of our solar system alone is mind boggling, but we know it's really only a very tiny part of the universe.  We just can't fathom such vastness.  NASA says the Voyager 1 probe has been traveling for over 34 years, at a speed of nearly 11 miles per second (yes, per second!!), is now in the outer regions of our solar system, but has not made it outside of it yet!  All of that travel time, and at that speed, and to still be in our own "neighborhood" is amazing!


So, I leave you with some of my favorite photos from space.  All are from NASA, and used with permission. 

Bug Nebula, formed by a dying star

Orion Nebula

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cleared for Takeoff

My husband has been running for a little over a year now.  He started off slowly at first, and built up his endurance.  Last fall, he ran his first 5K, and since then, he's run two more.  Now he wants to run a half marathon, but not just any half marathon; he wants to run the Beaver Creek Slide.  This is a course above Sheridan, Wyoming, on a ranch in the Big Horn Mountains.  It's an off road, cross country race, scheduled for May 5th. 

He has already begun training, and has been running 5-6 miles a day, 3-4 days per week, but he needs to keep increasing his distance even more to be ready.  Since he isn't exactly a "spring chicken" anymore (yikes, that means neither am I!!), and has some health conditions, such as diabetes, we thought it would be a good idea to see his doctor and get medical clearance.  That appointment was this morning.  His doctor is OK with him trying to do this, but wants him to be cautious.  While he's training, she wants him to do some different things, like check his blood sugar before and after his runs, and take his glucometer on the runs with him so if he "hits a wall or gets into trouble", he can check his blood sugar immediately.  She also wants him to carry some glucose so he can take it if he needs it.  Thank goodness for a neat thing called a runner's belt that has some little pouches in it, so you can carry stuff like this.

So, if he does well with the training runs and has no difficulties or problems with blood sugar, he has been cleared for takeoff!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chirp's the Word

Today is chilly, but bright and sunny, and there are birds singing all over the neighborhood.  One of my favorite things is when Keet, our budgie, tries to out-chirp them.  Maybe he's telling them to quiet down, or maybe he's calling to them to come and  play, although I suspect he'd have a fit if any of them actually got close to his cage.  He's pretty territorial.  Anyway, he can get very loud when he's doing this, but it's so funny listening to him try to keep up with all the wild birds outside.  I'll tell him, "Sing it Keet!" and it usually makes him even more enthusiastic. Funny little bird!

Keet "Loud Pipes"